May 18, 2018

The End of an Era

This girl has finished up school for the year. But not just that, she has finished up 5th grade. This means that the last child has completed elementary education. No more little kids around here! Next year we will have two middle schoolers and two high schoolers!


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She is the first one to completely finish up this year but the other three are close behind!

May 11, 2018

Spring Planning

We have between two and four weeks of school left in our year, depending on the kid, but I am already in the middle of planning for next year!

Next year is monumental year around here because I will have two kids in high school and two kids in middle school and zero kids in elementary. That seems so crazy to me! How did the time go so fast? Another crazy thing about next year is that we won't be babysitting. Our little guy is going off to public preK in the fall so he will not be returning to us. This makes us very sad because he entertains us so much. It also makes me have to stop and rethink things because I will no longer have to take a little one into consideration in my plans. It's weird.


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So planning is well under way around here. The first step in my planning is to decide what the kids will learn in the upcoming year. Nowadays, the kids are a part of this process. Obviously, some things are non-negotiable. Yes, everyone is doing math every single year. But some things are more flexible. My middle schoolers have "electives" just like my high school kids. They chose to give up Tech this year in favor of Art. Daniel decided to drop Latin for awhile. They all wanted to take ASL but decided that the stakes to learn it are just too high. (An early morning class every single day of the week.)

As we decide on the subjects, I write them all down in a list. Sometimes, well, usually, I then ruthlessly cut things off the list. Our educational eyes can be bigger than our time-and-energy-limiting stomachs. 

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Once we have a strong list that isn't too long, I consider ways to fill that list. Again, some things are just a given. Math will always be MathUSee. Grammar will always be Fix It! But there are always new things that I need to figure out. The middle schoolers need a fun, engaging way to learn Spanish vocabulary this year. The older kids used and loved Duolingo but the younger two can't seem to use it on a daily basis without it glitching somehow. Is it on purpose? Is it not? Either way, I feel this program no longer serves its purpose for us and I need to find something else. So off to research I go.

That's where I will spend my summer, talking to mom friends, cruising the Internet, scoping out curriculum sales, and snooping around stores. Hopefully I will find something.

Later, I will get more serious about details, but right now my planning is all about the big picture.

May 2, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: YWAM Publishing

I first heard about Amy Carmichael when I was a little girl. Her story immediately grabbed my attention because of two insignificant facts: she had six siblings, just like me; and she wanted blue eyes badly because her mother had blue eyes and she adored her mother. There is much more to her story, however, as we learned by reading Christian Heroes - Amy Carmichael, which is from the series Christian Heroes: Then & Now from YWAM Publishing.





We received a paperback book and a digital download of a Study Guide to go along with it.

We learned many things about Amy Carmichael by reading this book. She was a determined woman full of the love of God. She never hesitated to obey His call to share the Gospel with anyone and everyone she came in contact with. But she didn't just leave it up to chance, she left her home and family to take the love of God to people who would otherwise never have the chance to hear about Jesus. She traveled first to Japan where she did not hesitate to change customs and techniques to avoid any hindrance to the Good News. She wore Japanese clothing to keep the people from focusing on her instead of her message. She refused to use the crutch of pictures to keep them from thinking she was talking about just another powerless god. She was endlessly upbeat and totally committed to God's will, even to giving up husband and children to obey Him.

Bad health sent her to Ceylon and then back to England to recover. She was determined to spread the Gospel, however, so she accepted an invitation to a country with a better climate for her: India. She spent the rest of her life there, risking everything to share Jesus in spite of the caste system, the hatred of the Hindus and Muslims, and the heart-breaking stories of the girls, women, boys and men she took into her "family".

The most notable thing about Amy was her single-minded focus on loving others with the love of God. She was cheerful and determined. Her obedience to God drew many converts because her upbeat attitude, her loving heart, and her willingness to do whatever it take made a big impact on everyone she met. She trusted God faithfully and He was even more faithful to meet her needs.



YWAM Downloadable Unit Studies

The Study Guide that goes along with the book is a 62 page digital download. There was much more here than we could possibly have hoped to get done! Trust me, it is full of ideas. The Study Guide offers activities for all learning styles and ages/grades as well as both individual and group settings.  There are eight parts to the Study Guide:


  1. Key Bible Verses: verses mentioned or referred to in the story and suggestions on how to use them with your students
  2. Display Corner: Ideas for displaying objects from India or that represent India such as maps, food, clothing, etc. 
  3. Chapter Questions: 4 questions related to each chapter of the book for you to ask/ discuss with your students
  4. Student Explorations: essay questions; creative writing assignments; hands-on projects; audio visual projects; arts and crafts; language examples
  5. Community Links: ideas to explore your community in relation to the story
  6. Social Studies: places; journeys; vocabulary; geography; conceptual questions 
  7. Related Themes to Explore: a diagram of related topics to investigate with your students
  8. Culminating Event: ideas for a party or presentation of all you have learned
There is also an appendix with books and resources and another appendix with answers to the Chapter Questions. 

Since my children are older, we spent our time mostly with the Bible Verses and the Chapter Questions. Its fun to be able to have discussion time with the kids about people like Amy Carmichael!

As with other books we have read from YWAM, (Jim Elliot, Hudson Taylor, and C.S. Lewis) we highly recommend Christian Heroes - Amy Carmichael


And his servants shall serve Him and they shall see His face. Revelation 22:4



Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}

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Apr 25, 2018

Wrapping Up The Year

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 As we near the end of April, we also near the end of school. Even though we took off three entire weeks in March, the results of our diligence all year long are such that we are still almost finished with our year. Some subjects we have stopped altogether already.  We just stopped right where we were and will reconsider/ renegotiate them for next year. Some subjects we are wrapping up this week and some will be completed by the end of the month.

This is the time of year that I ponder what succeeded and limped along and what we failed in altogether.

Math:
For the teenagers, Algebra was a struggle. This was not the fault of Math U See, just a consequence of the fact that they don't have math brains. Getting them a "tutor" was the saving grace. A mom friend just made herself available to them to answer questions whenever they needed. They face-timed, texted and had her go over a few lessons in person. They are now in the final third of the book and hoping to finish up quickly.

Daniel is finishing up his math this week. He flew through his book, skipping most of the pages because he grasped the concepts so quickly and easily. He is our token math kid.

Abbie is already finished with her math. She did not technically finish a book this year. Since she skipped the second half of Primer and did the first half of Alpha in Kindergarten, she has always been half a book off. This book, however, Epsilon, slowed her down and I let her just stop when she finished it. She will start Zeta fresh in 6th grade and my orderly brain will be much happier about that.

Language Arts:
Fix It! Grammar is always a success. I am so happy that I discovered it!

Kaytie and Nate will reach the middle of book 5 in a couple of weeks and will stop there. They did a book and a half this year. Next year they will again do a book and a half and finish up Grammar forever. I will also have them do a little diagramming next year, just for the fun of it.

Daniel and Abbie are finishing up books 3 and 2, respectively. I love that this curriculum works for all four of my kids even though their needs and learning styles are so different.

All About Spelling is also always a hit. Daniel and Abbie have two more days' worth of work and then they will finish Level 4. We need to do a bit of rule review, but that is easy and fun.

None of them have done amazingly well with their book lists, but they have all had a busy year of plenty of reading. Kaytie will happily read Brit. Lit. all summer. Nate never stops reading. And the little kids will simply continue with their lists next year, no big deal. Our book clubs have been a great deal of fun.

IEW is pretty much over for the year. We have one more class period and that will mostly consist of word games. I am very satisfied with what all the kids have accomplished this year. Seeing their seemingly effortless progress has definitely sold me on the IEW method. Nate, in particular, went from struggling to write a paragraph that consisted of more than a couple of sentence fragments to writing a age-level appropriate opinion paper for his science teacher without any help or input from anyone.

We discovered Sharon Watson this year. Kaytie has worked through both Power in Your Hands and Characters in Crisis. She has thoroughly adored both of them. They have been the perfect resource for her to learn literary analysis and non fiction writing. She will use more Sharon Watson products next year.

Science:
Outsourcing science for the teenagers was a brilliant idea. I love science, but I don't know it. Sending them to a teacher who thoroughly knows what she is talking about as well as possessing an abundance of enthusiasm about the topic was all it took to give them a great year of learning. They had so much fun! They loved their labs, even when it came to dissecting. And they learned so. so. so much.

The little kids also had a great year of science. Daniel used Schoolhouse Teachers. com for his geology course. He watched the videos independently. Sometimes he would print and do the tests/worksheets and sometimes he simply narrated to me. He also got to do lots of fun stuff: playing with rocks; erupting volcanoes; creating fossils; excavating dinosaurs and performing science demonstrations and experiments.

Abbie went through Easy Peasy's zoology, did some lapbooks and read some fun stories. She explored some encyclopedia style books and looked at lots of pictures of adorable animals. It was perfect 5th grade science.

History:
We read a lot of books, played some games, and chatted a lot. History is never our greatest subject but I feel like we did do better this year than we have in the past.

 Bible:
The teens finished up their independent studies of the books they were reading/journaling through. The little kids did Bible Study Guide for All Ages. Abbie has reached a stopping point for the year. Daniel is still working. I love BSG for AA. I highly recommend it!

Spanish:
Again, outsourcing worked out great. The teens have both of the credits that they need and they learned a ton more fluency than if I had tried to teach them myself from a book.

Case in point, the little kids and I did Spanish this year about two times. The problem was not them, it was all me. It's super hard to teach something you don't really know. We will do better next year, I hope. I want them to be prepared for when I send them to a "real" Spanish teacher in high school so we do need to do something!

CompuScholar:
Daniel's account kept glitching and he eventually got frustrated and gave up. Nate, however, finished it and I gave him an elective credit for it. He really enjoyed the program.


Forensic Science:
This however, did not work out as planned. Easy Peasy is not a good format for Nate. He was equal parts bored and frustrated. I decided he had enough on his plate so he dropped this subject. He and Kaytie both want to try it again but using something other than Easy Peasy, so I am looking at that for next year.

Latin:
Daniel worked hard at Visual Latin. I think he learned a lot, but we have already dropped it for the year. I don't know if he will keep going next year or not.

Speech:
Kaytie successfully completed her Speech credit. IEW's Boot Camp was simple, easy, and effective. I'm doing this again next year with Nate.

Geography:
Around the World in 180 Days was a huge hit with the teens!!! I think the mapping exercises were the only thing they didn't care for. Kaytie still has one continent left and Nate has two. They both are working hard to finish up this year.

Let's Go Geography was likewise a hit with the younger kids! We did not complete the full year, but they enjoyed all the countries we did explore. I am planning on using this next year as more of a supplement and adding in a bunch of other materials to really focus on Geography.


Tech:
Daniel and Abbie enjoyed Khan Academy. Maybe a little too much? It's definitely an extra for them, so we have already stopped working on it for the year. I don't think either of them are going to have tech on their list for next year. I think they will both opt for a year of art instead.


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Apr 19, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: HelpTeaching.com

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HelpTeaching.com is a great resource for worksheets, tests, and games. The kids and I have been using their one year subscription to Help Teaching Pro. This site has thousands of tests and worksheets available for you at the click of a button. But that isn't all it has to offer.
HelpTeaching
It offers materials for all the grades from Pre K to 12th grade and covers all the subjects: math; language arts; social studies; science; arts; seasonal and holidays; life skills; vocational; P.E.; study skills; early education and life skills. You can search for worksheets by age/grade or by subject so it is easy to find what you need. 
They offer worksheets, activities, tests, quizzes, and games that you can easily download and/or print. They also have online lessons for your child to watch with related worksheet and activities linked on the same page. This makes it simple for you to set your child up to watch the lesson and then do the quizzes or activities that go along. Sometimes they have links to related lessons.
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If all of this is not enough, there are worksheet and test generators so that you can make your own. These are saved on the site for you so you can revisit/reuse as you please. I had fun creating a bingo game for frog related words. I intended to use it with my co-op class, but that didn't actually happen, so I played it with my kids, instead!
The kids watched a few of the lessons. They are mostly slides of illustrations with either background music with text to read or a pleasant voice reading the text. My kids tend to like a little more pizzazz when it comes to videos, so we spent most of our review time on the worksheets. 
HelpTeaching
The cool thing about this site is that it is a one-stop-shop. You can find something for any age. It can be hard to find worksheets for high schoolers but HelpTeaching.com has plenty! 
My teens worked on some science and some geography tests. For the science tests, the answer key came in handy since it wasn't necessarily information I knew. But Kaytie was taken aback when her map of the capitals of Europe answer key was blank! Yikes! But it turned out alright because she just used our atlas to check her work. 
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Daniel was able to show off his knowledge of Geology with a few tests on rocks. The sedimentary rocks are his favorite.


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Abbie did some math worksheets and some grammar worksheets. She thought they would be easy, but she was tripped up on a few questions and ended up learning some grammar facts she didn't know yet! She enjoyed her science worksheets more because they were all about animals! Life cycles, animal cells, and classification in tests, word searches and scrambles. She had a lot of fun!

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There was even a plethora of fun pages for the four year old that we borrow! He loved practicing his cutting skills and then matching animals. He colored some alphabet pages and worked on counting. 


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If you need tests and quizzes and fun worksheets in your homeschool, HelpTeaching.com is a great resource for supplementing your curriculum. We used it as a quick and easy way to throw a little fun in our day.


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If you don't want to print the tests, you can use the Test Room which gives you many options, including timed or not timed tests, immediate grading, sending the assignment to your student via email, and allowing your student to revisit previous answers or not. 
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